Bari's Adventures Las Vegas, NV

By Bari Musawwir
Apr 9, 2012

The time has come to bring you Bari’s Adventures from the biggest annual event on the Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam® tour! It seems like just the other day that I was preparing for the first weekend out of the season in Rochester New York, and now we are at the thirteenth running of the Advance Auto parts Monster Jam World FinalsSM presented by NGK Spark Plugs! In my 2nd season behind the wheel, I was honored to be invited to compete in the first ever Young Guns Shootout! This is a competition during the Friday Night Double Down event, where 8 drivers with 2 years or less of driving experience with Monster Jam® get to face off against each other on the unique and exciting racing course at the one and only Sam Boyd Stadium, in Las Vegas Nevada. 

I arrived in Las Vegas on the Tuesday before the event so I had plenty of time to adapt to the 3 hour time change as well as the dry desert climate. I was really looking forward to the World Finals this year for several reasons. Besides competing on Advance Auto parts Monster Jams biggest stage, my wife and daughter would also be in attendance as well as my Mom, Dad, Mother in law and sister in law. With my family in town along with all the loyal Monster Jam fans all over the world, I was ready to embark on the biggest Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam of my life!  When I reflect back to just four years ago, when I was simply a fan with a dream, hoping some day I would get to drive a real Monster Jam Truck, I never dreamed I would be participating in this world renown event with a chance to shock the motorsports world!
Wednesday, I headed over to the stadium to participate in two separate photo shoots, one was for the Young Guns Shootout competitors, and another for all of the Marvel Comics drivers. I also shot my part in the Monster Jam competitor parody video which was amazing! Later that evening I met up with my Mom and Dad to take them down the Las Vegas strip to check out the 30th Anniversary Grave Digger Parade! Who would have thought that you would ever see 8 Grave Digger Monster Trucks drive down Las Vegas Boulevard! It was a tremendous sight to see, and great for the sport!


Thursday, was an early morning for me.  I headed over to the Stadium to participate in the VIP driving experience, where some very special children from the Make a Wish foundation got a chance to take a ride in a Monster Jam ride truck. In addition to the kids taking the ride of their life, I was also granted the duty of being a driving instructor to some very important people that are big supporters and sponsors of Advance Auto parts Monster Jam. I had the opportunity to give these guys and gals a crash course on how to operate a real Monster Jam racing machine, right before they went out on the private course to take the 10,000 pound beast for a spin! It was so exciting to see their reactions as I instructed them on what they would be doing.


Around Mid day we had our first drivers meeting of the weekend. It was pretty surreal to look around the room and see all the great drivers that I have looked up to for so many years in attendance as well. After our meeting we had lunch and then made sure everything was ready to go for the evenings practice sessions.

Once practice time rolled around, we started out with a trial run of the introduction parade laps. This is where we discovered that the truck had an electrical problem which caused the truck to just shut off on its own. Once I got the truck back to the pits, my awesome team David Olfert, Nate Kirchner and Chad Tingler thrashed on getting a bunch of electrical components changed out. Once they had it all fixed it was time to time give the most sought after track in Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam a try.  After walking the track I came to the conclusion that the track was a bit on the dry side, so I wanted to feel my way around the course initially and then if I felt like I could go faster I would gradually get more aggressive with my right foot. By the end of our practice session the track was very dry with having 32 plus trucks on it multiple times! I even spun out in the exit of the chicane in the left lane coming out of Thunder Alley! After that I had to go right back and try it again to get that out of my head. I closed out the night with 4 good runs and ended up 4th fastest over all right in the middle of the pack.


After Practice It was time to head back to the hotel and get a good night’s rest, because Friday’s Double Down party was just hours away! Once Friday morning rolled around it was time to get down to business! The exclusive Double Down Party in the Pits for all the great fans that take advantage of the great experience was upon us. Monster Jams Super fans were already lining up at the entrance gate 3 hours before they party was scheduled to start, so once everything was set and in place the Monster Jam officials actually opened the gates a bit early and we were under way for the biggest pit party of the year. I was met by so many great fans, wishing me well in the Young Guns shoot out and some fans even told me they picked me to win! With that type of encouragement, I was pretty excited to give the shoot out my all! With this being the first time for this particular competition, and the first time for my Parents coming to Vegas to support me, as well as the support of my Wife, Daughter, Mother in Law, Sister in law and some close friends, I was ready to embark on the biggest Monster Jam of my career!


Once the inspiring Double Down Party in the Pits was over, I felt ready to complete the task at hand! We had less than 1 hour until show time, so I didn’t really have time to be nervous! I got in show mode, got suited up and headed to the pits. After the National Anthem, it was show time! We got through the Intro’s without a hitch this time and I drew Donald Epidendio and Titan in round one! I ran with Donald earlier in the season in Anaheim California so I knew he was going to be a tough competitor right off the bat. I knew I was going to have to run a fast, smooth consistent lap to beat him, and in the closest race in round one, I edged him out by ½ a tire length!


In round 2 I faced off with the Odds on favorite Morgan Kane in Stone Crusher. I was able to stay in the right lane and get the whole shoot off of the new pro tree timing system! I was able to run another smooth lap down thunder alley with a commanding leading approaching the turn. I drove the truck into the turn pretty deep and had a head of steam coming across the finish line for a full truck length win!

With a win in the semi final round I found myself paired up with Nicole Johnson in the Advance Auto Parts Grinder in the Championship round! We had been battling power steering pump issues all evening long that were getting worst and worst, so much so that I had to use the rear steer to get the truck back to the pits. The front steering would lock at times. My team would not let me get frazzled by it though! They told me to just keep doing what I was doing and you have got this! So as I pulled to the Advance Auto parts starting line for the last time with the young guns championship on the line, I told myself ,“Self you have come too far to let it slip away now”! I pulled into the staging lights and pre staged, then staged, and the lights went from amber to green and I put my foot to the floor and banged the Coan 2 speed power glide transmission into 2nd gear and away I went down through thunder alley, storming into Sam Boyd Stadium. As I approached my breaking point, I made sure I made a tighter turn then I had in previous rounds. With the front steering just about frozen, I clipped the turning car which through me toward the middle of the track as I approached the final jump to the finish line. With no time to correct I just hammered the throttle and hoped for the best. I looked over to my right to see if Nichole was anywhere in site while I was in the air. I didn’t see her so once I got the truck gathered up after a funny landing  off of the back side of the jump I knew I had crossed the finish line first!


I wanted to celebrate with a doughnut but the steering pump was done for! I took my belts off and couldn’t get out to salute the crowd fast enough! With the tight driving confines of the unique Spiderman body, I have to detach the steering wheel to get out of the window. So that’s just what I did, probably faster than I ever have before!


Once I got my helmet and safety gear off, I climbed out of the truck, to a warm welcome from the crowd followed by a big hug from my crew chief David Olfert! “WE DID IT BUDDY” is what I told him!


I had not done a show with Scott Douglass as the announcer all season long but, I could not think of a better time to do an interview with him then at that very moment. I saw Scott, and the camera crew approaching with this huge slot machine trophy in hand to give to me! Wow what a moment! The speed crew was everywhere as they found my family in the stands and interviewed my Mom as well!


Once I got back to the pits with my new hardware I received congrats from a bunch of my peers and fellow competitors! After the 24 main trucks finished with their qualifying rounds, all eight young guns competitors suited back up and we closed out the show with synchronized doughnuts!


Saturday I couldn’t wait to get to the stadium and get the Party in the Pits under way to reconnect with the greatest fans in motorsports!  My crew set my new Young Guns Championship trophy out on display along with the truck! Once the pit party started I had a steady stream of fans come through the line, with well wishes and bids of congratulation.


Once the pit party came to a close it was time to do the ever popular Monster Jam Parade to get all the trucks back to the pit area before 13th annual running of the Advance Auto parts Monster Jam World Finals!  My crew Chief David Olfert climbed in the driver’s seat, while I found a spot on top of Spidey, with my new hardware to wave to everyone as we idled by!


On Sunday I was given the privilege of presenting an award with my buddy Henry Cross at the Monster Jam Awards Ceremony. We would be presenting the award for the 2012 Rookie of the Year! In a sense it was time for me to pass the torch to this year’s winner!  This year had two recipients as well! Donald Epidendio and JR McNeal were the lucky winners!  Congratulations to them, they were very worthy of this award!  You can check out our awards presentation on Monster Jams you tube channel here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tQVjFpgFm4&feature=g-all-u&context=G22d8a6fFAAAAAAAAaAA 


In closing this was the biggest weekend of my career in Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam and I was very grateful to be able to compete at this level in such a short amount of time behind the wheel. Just to be a part of this weekend and rub shoulders with some of the competitors that I have looked up to since I was a kid is an honor in its self.  I look forward to continued success in the future and can’t wait to get the next chapter of my career under way! Thanks to all the great fans, my family, my wife and my Monster Jam family for all the support! Thanks to Joshua LaCoste for the awesome action photos for this addition of Bari’s Adventures.

Until next time take care

Bari Musawwir
2012 Monster Jam Young Guns Shoot Out Champion
2011 Monster Jam Rookie of the Year


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